Nano Series Takeaways: “I ❤️ Feature Flags”

Recapping the second week of the Nano Series on “Operate”

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Leading up to Trajectory LIVE, LaunchDarkly’s two-day conference at the end of August, we’re hosting a Nano Series on the Four Pillars of Feature Management: Build, Operate, Learn, and Empower. Last week we covered the Build pillar. In this week’s segment, we explored the Operate pillar of feature management.

What is the Operate pillar?

Operate encompasses feature flag use cases that improve the operational health of your application. It entails making feature flags a mission-critical piece of your operations. As deployment speeds and infrastructural complexity go up, so does the need for operational safeguards. Feature management is that safeguard.

In Operate, product delivery, DevOps, and SRE teams use feature flags to do the following:

  • Kill switches and circuit breakers: fail-safe flags that allow your teams to quickly react to issues before they become an incident
  • Dynamic configurations: feature flags for storing and managing distributed application configuration
  • Service metrics (reactive monitoring): automatic feature flag changes as a reaction to metric thresholds being reached in 3rd party monitoring/observability tools
  • Safe migrations: using feature flags to safely migrate from one infrastructure to another

Michael McKay, Senior Development Manager at IBM, unpacked some of the core ideas of Operate in his talk on “I Love Feature Flags”. Here’s the recording:

Takeaways

  • Feature Flags don’t have to be used just for managing features. IBM’s use of LaunchDarkly to manage its Kubernetes Clusters proves that LaunchDarkly’s streaming architecture is reliable and scalable to meet the most demanding needs.
  • Implementing LaunchDarkly in an organization can (and probably) change over time to cater to new use cases and new users.
  • A change management process with LaunchDarkly can be implemented today via the API, but will be available out-of-the-box soon.

Conclusion

A big thank you to Michael McKay for sharing IBM’s journey with feature flags.

Next week, the Nano Series will cover Learn, the third Pillar of Feature Management. Clair Knight, Senior Engineering Manager at Github, will touch on some of the core concepts of Learn in her talk “Shipping and Learning Fast via Feature Flags”.

Tune in Wednesday, August 12th at 10 a.m. PT! Register now.

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Rich is a Dev Advocate at LaunchDarkly. He's a passionate product engineer keenly interested in truly making things simpler. He's spent most of his tech career building useful (and not so useful) products at Trello, Atlassian, Oracle, and PeopleSoft.